By Kaitlin Candelaria
People in the Over the Mountain area who haven’t met Jane Hodges likely know of a home that has experienced her decorative flair.
Hodges has been helping Over the Mountain residents decorate their homes for 69 years. The lifelong Birmingham resident houses her interior design shop in the heart of Mountain Brook in English Village. The shop has migrated through the city throughout the years, beginning in English Village, moving to Mountain Brook Village and ultimately landing adjacent to Henhouse Antiques in English Village again many years ago.
Hodges was first inspired to become a decorator by Emily Neil, a wonderful designer and close friend of the family, she said.
“When I was a little girl and (Neil) would come see my mother, I would sit on the stairs and listen to everything she said,” Hodges said. “My mother was also always doing things in our house or redoing something. I just got attached to (interior design).”
She was able to get her start when a friend asked her to redecorate his home. Up to that point, Hodges had never done any sort of design work, but the momentum she gained from that job and word of mouth among her friends and in the community carried her forward as one of the most prominent interior designers in Birmingham.
Hodges describes her style as traditional, but she still enjoys mixing things up a little, she said.
“I love antiques, and I think they’re very important,” Hodges said. “Even if you have an ultra-contemporary house, I think it’s fun to stick a couple of things in there that belonged to your parents or grandparents — a painting or a piece of furniture that’s very special to you.”
Hodges spends most of her time meeting with clients in her shop and then going out to procure pieces that fit the client’s style and desire. Every day as an interior designer is a little bit different, she said.
“My favorite part of my job is getting to know different types of people and working with them,” Hodges said. “I like knowing them and knowing what their interests are and trying to make them happy. After meeting with a client, we go out and search for things for their home. We have many wonderful shops in Birmingham that I go look around in.”
In 69 years, Hodges has seen many trends come and go. She’s seen beautiful prints and wallpaper flourish as all the rage only to be replaced by all-white interiors with neutral accents years later. Things come around and go around, she said. But her ultimate decorating tip for clients?
“I tell them to go buy flowers and put them in vases in their house,” Hodges said. “It makes it so warm and wonderful, no matter if it’s an all-white house or if it has floral palettes in it.”
Hodges attributes her career’s longevity to a genuine love for what she does.
“I absolutely love my work,” she said. “I enjoy the people and the connections and getting to know their lifestyle and trying to bring it all together for them, because I think that’s the way it should be. It’s not what I want in their house, but what they and their family want. It’s really important to me to put things in people’s houses that they love. Interior design is very personal.”
“I’ve been very blessed and very lucky because I’ve worked for so long for wonderful people, and they’ve become my best friends. I love them dearly. They’ve been very special to me with my life and my work.”